Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta Review

Snowglobe Viewer 2

Dynamic Shadows

Update 3/5/10: Many people are reporting much worse performance with 2.0. This has to do with Texture Memory, a graphics setting. See links below for more info.

Original Post

The viewer is out and people are playing with it. I’ve had some time to use the viewer. There are things I like and things that really suck. I believe the adoption of this viewer as the standard Second Life viewer will push many longer time residents to use third party viewers.

Teleport History

A great addition is the teleport history. What is not so nice is how much of the screen it uses. There seems to be no way to hide it.
Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

Landmark Detail View

Clicking the back and forward arrows initiates an immediate teleport. The home icon, of course, teleports one home. Clicking the ‘i’ icon in the address field opens the side panel and reveals the region information with links to the region and estate information and tools. One is now several clicks away from the estate media information, not a big deal.

Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

Landmarks Window

Also, opening the side panel and selecting Places reveals the old Landmarks folder. At the top are tabs for My Landmarks and Teleport History.

The overall feel is these features were made to be similar to web browsing history and favorites.


Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

Landmarks Button List

Landmarks are different. Organizing them … well… that may be awkward. There is a landmark button that pulls up a list of LM’s. Whoever designed the landmark button was clueless. Fortunately the Landmark folder is still in inventory. Organizing still happens in inventory.

Chat & IM’s

Chat has changed. We get little thumbnails of the av’s in a chat now. Cute… There is a way to turn them off (Preferences -> Chat -> Enable Plain Chat History) and make chat readable;e again.

Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

Group Chat Window

The chat window has changed… are you have the option to change it. By default chat comes up in separate windows. Each IM, each group comes up in a separate window, very cluttered. Then there is tabbed chat like what we are used to. Groups and IM’s appear in a tabbed window. Unfortunately they did not place the tabs down the side, but across the bottom. However the Nearby Chat window remains separate.

One nice thing is your friends logging on and off comes up in a separate window. That makes it much easier to use chat logs, less clean up.

Profiles change. The windows for your profile text are way small. So, if you have a picture or decorations in your profile text that will be messed up. The proportions on the profile picture change. If you took the time to make your profile pic look good, you will have to redo it.


Voice is on by default. The little white indicator floats over your head. You can change the microphone (Input Device) and Speakers (Output Device) in Preferences, Sound & Media. There is also an enable/disable check box. It has been moved away from the top of the tab page. It is now somewhat hidden in the middle of the page. They obviously do not know how often I need to turn it on and off.

Friends & Groups

Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

Camera Controls

There is now a People tab. Your friends and groups are in there. The four tabs controlling the window are Nearby, My Friends, My Groups, and Recent. The friends list is split into two subgroups, Online and All.

Map & Mini Map

If one sticks the mini map to the right side of the screen then opens inventory, the mini-map floats over the inventory list. They will probably fix that. The map has been cleaned up and looks less cluttered.


Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

New Profile Dialog

Frames per Second (FPS) is good. My nVidia 8800 is getting 45 to 50 FPS. The bandwidth being used is low. I suspect lots of profile images downloading in background. My initial logon was slow… took my av forever to rez and it could not find the hair, coat, boots, and some other things I was wearing. They did show up in a later logon.

Inventory has changed. The library items are in various tabs now. See image.

HELP has greatly improved. There are little ‘?’ all over. Clicking the question mark opens an in viewer browser showing the pertinent section. This is a big improvement. Should be a big help for those new to SL. There is a ‘search’ window that is marked ‘coming soon’. That should help even more. I do think more floating tips would have helped.

The interface is explained here: Interface Overview

Many of the technical displays seem to be gone, or I haven’t found where they moved to. The Ctrl-Shift-3 and 9 are gone. Most people don’t use them, but I’ll miss them. The texture download information was nice for builders needing to locate problem textures in builds. The render information also helped with deciding if I had a problem or SL or the region had a problem.

UPDATE: I found them… in advanced settings is an item labeled Show Developer Menu (Ctrl-Alt-Q). Once the Developer menu is active the keys like Ctrl-Shift-3 (Texture Console) work again.

Clothes & Skin

Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta

Appearance Dialog

They have added more layers to the avatar. There is now a tattoo layer that provides for a texture for the av head, upper and lower body. One uses the basic clothing templates.

There is also an Alpha layer. This allows one to get away from Invisa-prims. Using the clothing templates one create masks to make parts of the avatar invisible. This is a 1 bit map. You only have a choice of on or off, visible or not. A 50% grey or 50% transparent does not work. The avatar is still visible.

Update 3/6/2010: Viewer 2.0 does not notice clothing or attachment changes made in other viewers. Change your outfit in a 1.23.x viewer, log out then log on with 2.0 and you’ll find your wearing the last outfit you wore with 2.0 not the recent 1.23 change. The clothes and attachments are slow loading and get confused. You may find yourself wearing some odd mix of clothes and attachments.

Dynamic Shadows

Snowglobe Viewer 2

Dynamic Shadows

This feature is still in the advanced settings. To turn it on one must open the Advanced menu (Ctrl-Alt-D) and then open the Developer’s menu (or Ctrl-Alt-Q). Then click Rendering and select Framebuffer Objects. This will then allow you to select Deferred Rendering. Once both of those are active you will have dynamic shadows.

Using Dynamic Shows takes my dual core Intel with nVida 8800 from near 60 FPS down to 9 FPS. For picture taking the feature is nice. I often get in position for a picture, turn on shadows, get the shot, turn off shadows and move to the next location.

Note: See Gwyneth’s tips for speeding up a Mac below (they mostly work on all platforms).


Lots of changes. Some good some not so good. This viewer feels much more …cluttered. The Tattoo and Alpha layers are a big plus. I think builders will find the viewer impossible to use. I’ll stick with Emerald as my primary viewer.

Some of the planned coming changes to version 2.0 are blogged about by Howard Linden  in Behind the Scenes of Viewer 2

A new Snowglobe is out too. I’ll be playing with it later today.

There is another review of SL 2.0 viewer by Inara Pey, which you may find helpful: Viewer 2.0 – Initial impressions

Another builder (Ciaran Laval) has problems with SL 2.0 Viewer: Dealbreaker

Gwyneth Llewelyn has posted her take and speculates on what the changes will mean in SECOND LIFE 2.0: THE REVOLUTIONA must read for shop owners.

Gwyneth Llewelyn has written an article about tweaking 2.0 for Mac users. SL 2.0 Beta still running too slowly on your Mac? No worries! While this article is written for the Mac what you learn can be used to improve any system.

User Poll

Tell Linden Lab and others what you think of the viewer. Second Life Viewer 2 Poll This is a short quick poll. Linden Lab has a poll but its useless.

3 thoughts on “Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta Review

  1. Pingback: Issue #288 Wednesday, March 3, 2010 « The D'ni Voice

  2. Good overview.
    And I agree, viewer 2.0 have many things I hate. Some things really suck. But there are great improvements too.
    For me the bottom line is that I changed back to the old viewer.

    • Many of us are avoiding 2.0. I just downloaded the Beta 2.0.1. I find I am using Kirsten’s viewer more and more. I’m looking forward to the next Emerald update. I’m sad to see the Imprudence web site is gone.

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